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U.N. gets new Timor-Leste special rep

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed India's Atul Khare as his new special representative to Timor-Leste.

Khare's appointment comes after a lengthy career in public service at the United Nations. His prior posts have included deputy special representative to Annan as well as chief of staff of the U.N. Mission of Support in East Timor from June 2002 to May 2005.

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Since 2005, Khare, whose appointment was announced Wednesday, has been serving as the director of the Nehru Center and Minister of the Indian High Commission in London.

The new representative replaces Japan's Sukehiro Hasegawa, whose appointment ended Sept. 30.

Khare's role will most likely not be an easy one. The former East Timor had been "shaken earlier this year by violence attributed to differences between eastern and western regions," the United Nations said.

The crisis has led to the deaths of 37 people and caused 155,000 people to leave their homes this year alone, the world body said.

In response to the conflict, the U.N. Security Council created the U.N. Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste "to help restore order in the country and support next year's presidential and parliamentary elections," the United Nations said.

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The mission currently has 460 police officers and also fields military observers who are supported by 102 international civilians, 222 local civilians and 34 U.N. volunteers.

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